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X-ray Vision: an Accidental Discovery that Revolutionized Medicine

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A serendipitous discovery is a discovery that has been discovered accidentally. One important discovery was because of Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen (Roentgen), a German mechanical engineer and physicist, born on March 27, 1845. Wilhelm R?ntgen was 40 years old and a physics professor at the Julius Maximilian University of Wurzburg when he discovered the X-ray by accident.The German physicist was preparing to begin an experiment with cathode rays, the glowing beams of electrons that pass through a vacuum tube when electricity is applied. In his darkened lab, he covered the tube with black cardboard, but suddenly at that time he noticed a shine of light on the screen across the room. At some point, he held up a small lead disk, and saw a terrifying shadow (shape of the disk itself) on the screen along with a skeletal outline of the bones in his hand.

By seeing this weird reaction, he had discovered a new form of electromagnetic radiation, but he did not know what it was, so he simply called it “X.” His scientific achievement was to recognize that he’d found something new and he continued to study it.

R?ntgen didn’t leave his laboratory for the next six weeks while he deepened his knowledge and research into this chance find. He stayed there, working, even though his apartment was on a floor above the lab. Days after the accidental discovery, the German mechanical engineer and physicist was able to make the first X-ray image of a human body part, which was his wife’s hand. Six years later, he received the very first Nobel Prize in Physics.

The discovery of the X-ray radically improved clinical diagnostics. It was used routinely in the First World War. It’s been used to diagnose bone damage, as well as bacterial infections, such as tuberculosis. Nowadays, X-ray technology is not only used to diagnose illnesses, it is also used during operations, such as during tumor removal, to monitor the location of medical supplies. In fact, X-ray technology is used widely in everyday life, in industrial settings and at security checks at airports for instance.To sum up, Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen serendipitously discovered one of the most important and helpful tools in the world, the X-ray.

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X-RAY VISION: AN ACCIDENTAL DISCOVERY THAT REVOLUTIONIZED MEDICINE. (2018, October 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from
X-RAY VISION: AN ACCIDENTAL DISCOVERY THAT REVOLUTIONIZED MEDICINE [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Oct 04 [cited 2023 Mar 29]. Available from:
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